It seems appropriate that with any analog photographic endeavor, the final product should result in a printed collection of works. Today, we're proud to feature photographer Sue Denaim, otherwise known as "4614," and his new book "Uncropped Cheap Film." Sue's work appealed to me because of his use of "non-professional" films. The cheap films you'd find on vacation in drug stores, gas stations, and grocery stores. As a kid growing up in the 80's, these were the only films I knew. I was never even aware of, let alone shot with, the professional-level films that you'd find in specialty camera shops. To me, the cheap films are what is a huge part of what the "film look" is because it's what I grew up with.
Below, Sue gives us some insight into his work.
What type of subjects do you concentrate on the most?
What makes you gravitate to film?
There are a few things that make me gravitate to film. First is the sound of the film as its advances to the next frame. I can't explain it but that sound just makes me giddy... Next, is the lack of instant gratification in the whole process. You can't just check each shot and reshoot until you get it right. You need to actually know what you are doing...or go broke and crazy. It helps you develop patience and you learn to take your time...carefully pick out your subject and maybe decide the shot is NOT worth it. Next, is the scanning process. I love digitizing my film and fixing the contrast and getting rid of dust and scratches... or leaving them in if they work with the photo. And, I love that i can hold the physical negatives in my hands. I love cutting them and organizing them. Labeling them the same as the folder of the scanned images on my computer. Last, I love that i don't have to keep up with the latest new technology. I shot digitally for years and always felt like I had to keep up with the newest high end cameras. It gets to the point where its not even about the photography but about the equipment. My saying, "A good photographer can shoot a great photos with anything, including a cheap throw away camera." I learned photography using film... and i love coming back to it.
What types of cameras/films do you shoot with primarily?
I had a Canon F1 that i LOVED! But it broke and the film will not advance...and I have not had it fixed. I also have a broken (Canon) AE1...but lets talk about cameras that work! Right now I'm shooting with a Canon Rebel 2000 for my 35mm needs and a Holga120 for my 120mm needs. I like to shoot cheap film. I like the grain and the way I can buy more for my buck. I used to shoot a lot of Arista Premium 400 until it died earlier this year. So now I shoot mainly Arista EDU Ultra ISO 100 200 or 400 for my black and white needs. For Color I shoot Agfa Vista Plus. I'm not a film snob. I like grainy, grimy cheapness. I have a box of 50 rolls of expired Agfa color film that I've been shooting, too. A few of those made it into the book but I'm saving those for a new future project. For the Holga I use Arista EDU ISO 200 or 400. I've been shooting tons with the Holga/cheap film combo...but again that is for a future project.
What motivated you to create your book?
The motivation to create the book came from the need to see my work in a physical form and not just one or two shots at a time. Also, I had a vision of what I wanted my work to look like and be presented that I just couldn't achieve online. Photography has become this non-physical entity. A photo can be shot, edited, sold and displayed all without ever living physically. Monetarily I know this makes sense (and cents) but I wanted something physical that I could present to people and say "I made this." I have so much photography that no one ever sees. Things get lost online in the crowd of media that is bombarding you daily. People that follow me and have known me a long time open the book and find things that they have never seen before. While looking at the book they actually take the time to admire the work that went into every shot.
What types of projects can we look forward to in the future?
I am already half way done with the next book... a book of my Holga work. It's a lot darker and gloomier than this one due to the nature of that camera. I also plan to put out a book of my expired film work. Also, I was thinking of making an issue dedicated to only my digital work from past years. There is a reason this book is labeled "Vol. 1"... there are more books to come. I'm also working on some canvas prints of my work that I'll create frames for. Maybe display in a gallery around LA sometime. I've had my work in a few galleries in the past and was thinking of jumping back into that scene.
A big thanks to Sue for sharing his work. Please make sure to support Sue, film photography, and the printed medium by checking out his book, of which there are only 25 signed and numbered copies for only $30.
To buy the book, you can Paypal Sue directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.